National Parks and State Forests
Located approximately 180km from Gladstone, Cania Gorge National Park is the closest park to the coast in which you can see the sandstone landscapes of central Queensland. Discover the incredible natural beauty of the area where dramatic ochre coloured sandstone rock formations overlook lush forest gullies. Visitors enjoy an amazing variety of scenery, wildlife and history.
Travel 12km north from Monto on the A3 Burnett Highway. Branch off onto the sealed Cania Road for 14km passing through the small settlement of Moonford.
Aboriginal people have lived in Cania Gorge for at least 19,000 years. Freehand art on remote sandstone walls is a reminder of their special way of life.
Facilities: Picnic shelters, barbeques, interpretive display, public toilets and car parking are available at the Cania Gorge Picnic Area. Two caravan parks and holiday cottages nearby provide accommodation to suit all budgets.
Walking Tracks: With the 2,931 hectare Park there are a variety of walking tracks ranging in length from 300m to 22km. Choose walks that suit your fitness level.
Shamrock Mine: This easy Class 2 – 1.4km return walk (allow 45 minutes) takes an historic look at the former mine site. It begins at the northern carpark, about 1km south of Lake Cania. Here lie the remains of the old battery, mine shaft, processing sheds and mullock heaps. Gold fossicking is not permitted. On returning, spend time at the information shelter discovering some of the trials of living in the goldfields.
Big Foot Walk: Allow about 20 minutes for this 1km short trail Class 3 that features a large brown image of a four-toed foot on the white sandstone cliff.
Castle Mountain: From the picnic area follow the 800m Bloodwood Cave track to the Castle Mountain track turnoff. Climb the steep 200m track to the Gorge Lookout for a lovely view down the gorge. From here a 10km fire trail winds through open woodland to Castle Mountain lookout. The view from this lookout is just reward after the long walk up. Return via the same track.
Wildlife: Rock-wallabies and black-striped wallabies inhabit the park while sheath-tail bats and the common bentwing-bats shelter in caves during the day. Birds are abundant with over 150 species recorded. Rainbow lorikeets and the larger Australian king-parrots can be seen flying swiftly through the open eucalypt woodland. Hear the long piping call of Lewin’s honeyeaters while walking through the rainforest.
Mount Walsh National Park is 84km west of Maryborough or 50km south of Childers. Turn off the Maryborough-Biggenden Road 2km east of Biggenden or 79km west of Maryborough. Travel a further 5.3km along the signposted National Park Road to the picnic area.
Rising to 703m above sea level, Mount Walsh National Park is a rugged park with spectacular exposed granite outcrops and cliffs. The “Bluff” area of Mount Walsh, at the park’s northern end, is a prominent landmark in the Biggenden area. The park’s diverse vegetation includes vine forest in sheltered pockets, scrubland and heath on rock pavements and open eucalypt forest and woodland. Common rainforest trees include tuckeroo, python tree, canary beech and the native witch hazel with its white perfumed flowers.
Facilities: Enjoy a picnic or barbecue below The Bluff. A shelter shed, toilets, barbecue and tank water are provided in the picnic ground next to the park. Bush camping is permitted in the park. No facilities are provided so visitors must be totally self-sufficient. Take a fuel stove. Open fires are not permitted. Camping may be closed in periods of high fire danger. Take plenty of drinking water.
Walking: Most of this rugged park is suitable only for experienced, well-equipped bushwalkers with sound bush skills. WARNING: Granite rocks are slippery when wet. Wear shoes with good grip or avoid walking during or after rain.
A 300m trail leads from the picnic area through open forest to a rocky creek gully fringed with dry rainforest. Continue 200m to the treeline for views over the surrounding countryside. Only experienced walkers should attempt the 2.5 hour hike to the summit of Mt Walsh.
Wildlife: The park is a wildlife refuge. Birdlife is abundant with around 125 native species including the threatened powerful owl and the grey goshawk.
Auburn River is located about 225km west of Maryborough and 40km south-west of Mundubbera which is just off the A3 Burnett Highway. Travel 13km south along the Mundubbera-Durong Road to the Hawkwood Road intersection. Turn west along the Hawkwood Road for about 20km until you reach the Auburn River National Park turn-off. Drive a further 7km to the park along an unsealed road. Conventional vehicle access is possible. Four-wheel-drive is recommended in wet weather. Stay on the road, as soils are treacherous when wet.
The 405 hectare park features caves, rock pools and superb scenery and provides recreational activities including bush walking, swimming and rock climbing. When the river runs, it cascades over huge salmon coloured boulders and winds through the park.
Facilities: A basic camping area, picnic tables, gas barbecue and toilet facilities are provided on the northern bank of the Auburn River in a picturesque bush setting. Camping permits are required and fees apply. The closest fuel, supplies and alternative accommodation are available in Mundubbera.
Walking: There are no graded walking tracks in Auburn River National Park, only rough footpads. Walks begin from the picnic and camping area. The following track classification system is based on Australian Standards –
Gorge Lookout – 600m (Allow about 15 minutes) Class 3: This short stroll boasts impressive views across the river bed. Leave from the end of the carpark and walk the short distance to the unexpected Auburn River gorge. Look for the “Giant’s Chair” from the lookout or for a peregrine falcon’s nest – easily detected because of the telltail signs of “white-wash” marks on the cliff face below a collection of sticks and debris which make up the nest. This is a naturally occurring lookout – there are no handrails. Please supervise children at all times, especially near cliff tops.
Riverbed and Rockpools – 1.5km return (Allow about 1 hour) Class 5: This is a strenuous walk and should only be attempted by fit walkers. Leaving the picnic and camping area, this rough track winds down the side of the gorge to the river bed, taking you through dry rainforest, eucalypt forest and creek vegetation. Notice the swollen trunks of the dominant bottle trees along the way. Take time to observe the immediate area to ensure you will be able to find the trail on your return. Take care when walking on wet rock surfaces, as they can be slippery.
Wildlife: Bring your binoculars. The park provides a habitat for numerous birds, reptiles and mammals. You might see peregrine falcons which nest in the cliffs. Red-necked and brush-tailed rock wallabies may be seen around the cliffs and in scrubby gullies. Enjoy the wildflowers in spring.
Woowoonga is about 90 minutes’ drive from Maryborough and 14km north of Biggenden. Turn off the Childers Road into Giles Road 6.5km north of Biggenden. Drive 2.5km then turn left into Woowoonga Hall Road. Continue for 2km then turn right into Mt Woowoonga Road and continue 3km to the picnic area.
Facilities: Picnic or barbecue beside a rocky creek adjacent to the National Park. A council picnic shelter, tank water and a wood barbecue are provided. Bush camping is prohibited. Accommodation is available in nearby Biggenden.
Walking: Bushwalking can be enjoyed at Mt Woowoonga but it is a challenging landscape and is only recommended for the fit and experienced hiker.
Lookout Walk – 1.6km return (Allow about 1.5 hours) Class 4 track: A natural lookout is situated approximately 800m along the trail. This walk is rated as moderate to strenuous and walkers can take the opportunity to weave through thick dry vine forest.
Summit Walk – 3.6km return (Allow about 5 hours) Class 5 track: A rough trail leads through thick vine forest to the lookout before opening up into open hoop pine forest with some vine forest sections in the understory. Towering hoop pines greet hikers at the summit of Mt Woowoonga. A high level of fitness is required to make the final ascent to the summit as it is a steep and strenuous climb suitable for experienced bushwalkers only.
Spectacular views over Biggenden, Binjour Plateau and the Burnett Ranges can be seen and on a very clear day Fraser Island. Take a compass and follow the red markers. Start your walk near the picnic area.
Wildlife: Go bird watching. Discover flocks of red-tailed black-cockatoos in summer.
Coominglah State Forest
Located about 220 km west of Bundaberg, Coominglah State Forest is a pleasant place to enjoy a bushland drive, picnic and majestic views, all in the company of colourful native plants, animals and birds. The main entrance is off the Burnett Highway 19 km north of Monto.
The Gooreng Gooreng people have a 19,000 year connection to this area, gathering plants for food and medicines, hunting and living from the land. Many worked as foresters during the early years of forestry in Coominglah.
The forest is managed by the Department of National Parks, Recreation, Sport and Racing’s (NPRSR) Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service (QPWS) as are most of the parks and State forests around Monto.
Coominglah State Forest is open 24 hours a day.
Coominglah State Forest offers scenic 4WD forest drives, some also suitable for horses, trail bikes and mountain bikes. It features a fantastic lookout-Hurdle Gully Lookout-with picnic facilities. The lookout is 10.6 km form the entrance to the State forest, 19 km north of Monto off the Burnett Highway.
Dogs are allowed in Coominglah State Forest but must be on a leash and under control at all times.
Camping is not permitted in Coominglah State Forest. The closest bush camping in State forest land is in Kalpowar State Forest. There are no water or toilet facilities. The nearest toilet is at the rest area, close to the State Forest entrance, 19 km from Monto, just off the Burnett Highway.
While there are no walking tracks with Coominglah State Forest, you can stretch your legs at the Hurdle Gully lookout and enjoy a long view into the valley of Three Moon Creek, across to the Mulgildie Plateau and the Burnett River catchment. The lookout has an interpretive display, picnic tables and small parking area but no water or toilet.
While sections of the forest roads and tracks are reasonably flat, others are steep and winding and generally suited only to four-wheel-drive vehicles. Unsealed sections of the roads can be navigated by all-wheel-drives (AWD) or sturdy 2WDs in dry conditions. Even a brief shower of rain on the roads can pose extremely slippery conditions, where vehicles can slide off the road and become stuck in the soft road shoulders. Be aware! the roads and tracks are also used by riders of mountain bikes, trail bikes and horses.
Two drives are featured:
Hurdle Gully drive and the Coominglah – Cania drive. Visit the website for maps and more information and run a search for Coominglah State Forest: www.nprsr.qld.gov.au
The forest is home to glossy black-cockatoos, an uncommon species that feeds almost exclusively on casuarina seeds. The birds mangle the seed pods to the small seed inside and discard the remains of seed pods, called mangled orts, under the trees – a clue to birds feeding there.
Micro bats take to the skies after dark hunting for small insects. Yellow-bellied gliders come out to feed and at night can often be seen in spotted gums or other smooth-barked eucalypts.
Look for eastern grey kangaroos in the grassy understorey and at the lookout, wedge-tailed eagles soaring high over the canopy, and butterflies in Hurdle Gully.
Image credit: Maria-Ann Loi
Further information on all the National Parks and State Forests listed – Walkers should take a topographic map and compass when exploring the parks. Never walk alone. Take a first aid kit and plenty of drinking water. Wear sturdy shoes and tell someone responsible your bushwalking plans in case you get lost or injured. Talk to the Ranger before rock climbing or abseiling in remote parts of the park. Dogs are not permitted in National Parks.
For detailed information including camping permits, nature, culture and history, caring for parks, staying safe and emergency contacts visit the EPA website www.epa.qld.gov.au/parks_and_forests or call the EPA customer service centre 1300 130 372.